Crackdown looms for illegal tourism operators

    Harare – The government of Zimbabwe has sent an ultimatum to unregistered tourism operators to register their operations or face the full wrath of the law.

    Companies and individuals running entities in tourism under the radar have been given until March 31 to regularise their activities.

    Speaking at a stakeholder meeting in the capital recently, the new Tourism and Hospitality Minister Prisca Mupfumira said there is an imminent sector clean up on the way.

    “It is disheartening to know that there are a number of actors who are operating illegally operating and offering tourism services in contravention of the Tourism Act.

    Such players are offering unfair competition to genuine tourism players and are defrauding government in revenue,” Mupfumira said.

    The minister said government will not be lenient with such operators after March 31 this year.

    “I therefore wish to encourage and persuade all such unregistered operators to ensure they register their business between now and March 31. On April 1 we will take action.

    We are going to be communicating that register or you are out. April 1 we are serious about it we are not joking. We would like to ensure that it is fair play,” she said.

    Tourism has been marred by briefcase travel operators and service providers who have slowed down growth in the sector.

    “We have organisations like the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Zimbabwe Council of Tourism negotiating with RBZ to get facilities like the one we are gathered here for. And you get unregistered people wanting to benefit from such a facility, we say no.

    After April 1 I have directed ZTA in conjunction with the relevant arms of law to undertake a blitz on all unregistered operators. We need to restore order and sanity in the tourism sector and I urge those concerned to take heed of this moratorium,” warned Mupfumira.

    The tourism industry has been seeing reduced gains in the recent years slumping from 14 percent in 2009 to about 11 percent in 2016. The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister said it could be more but the figures are difficult to ascertain because of clandestine companies.

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